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Micro-programming and the design of the control circuits in an electronic digital computer

  • M. V. Wilkes (a1) and J. B. Stringer (a1)

Extract

Experience has shown that the sections of an electronic digital computer which are easiest to maintain are those which have a simple logical structure. Not only can this structure be readily borne in mind by a maintenance engineer when looking for a fault, but it makes it possible to use fault-locating programmes and to test the equipment without the use of elaborate test gear. It is in the control section of electronic computers that the greatest degree of complexity generally arises. This is particularly so if the machine has a comprehensive order code designed to make it simple and fast in operation. In general, for each different order in the code some special equipment must be provided, and the more complicated the function of the order the more complex this equipment. In the past, fear of complicating unduly the control circuits of the machines has prevented the designers of electronic machines from providing such facilities as orders for floating-point operations, although experience with relay machines and with interpretive subroutines has shown how valuable such orders are.

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(1)Wilkes, M. V.Report of Manchester University computer inaugural conference, July 1951 (Manchester, 1953).

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